That tiger on those jackets though.

Eugene of Team Terrible had a shoot scheduled earlier in the day before our sit-down. It got postponed so instead he bought a kitten, as one does. I say that to say, just know throughout the course of this interview, it could be heard meowing, running on top of furniture and bodies, and clawing at its leisure: so just imagine that as you keep scrolling. The little guy had a fresh new environment and ahead of it a lot to get used to.

“I just hope he doesn’t fuck up my Air Max’s” Eugene thought out loud.

Coming alive under my camera flash, those jackets with that logo became a hot ticket item since the brand’s launch in 2013. But that’s not to say the spirit of them wasn’t bubbling inside of Eugene those years prior. After going on about everything from his memories of the street wear scene in the early 2000’s, to 90’s Hip Hop, Bay Area skateboard culture, and his love of vintage clothing, it makes sense how his own personal aesthetic eventually culminated itself into the form of a clothing brand. It’s inception wasn’t so much intentional though, he would explain. Matter of fact, if I had to force the comparison, it more or less started with him, too, getting used to a new environment and fucking shit up.

“We would go out, get drunk, and act crazy,” he described. “Team Terrible” was just something he and his friends would shout for no particular reason as they bar hopped. A San Francisco native, the cost of living in the city drove him to the East Coast and it was in Baltimore where the idea struck him to make team jackets for his small circle to get drunk and act crazy in. The way he frames the brand’s rise feels spontaneous and accidental. It was organic, but it hardly came out of thin air.

He worked at HUF starting around ‘05. Street wear had yet to reach the trendy heights it sits at now and the climate of the city was tangibly different. In hindsight that was the perfect time to be in the environment and soak things up. It was less about hype and more a genuine love. His coworkers were of similar minds, one being the owner of Black Scale, who around that time just started dipping his feet into clothing. He also worked at True around the time these brands the Haight is known for started gaining prominence. Back then there was more room for people to do their thing. At that point, Eugene was doing things like altering Starter jackets and sewing patches into them. He was a skateboarder and a hip hop head.

I asked him his top 10 rappers and he burst into laughter, struggling to narrow it down. The first name was Sean Price.

San Francisco “wants you to pay $1300 for a box…with rats in it,” he went on to describe. Out of necessity he found himself leaving what was becoming a more tech-oriented city and one night in Baltimore I suppose those years out here just clicked. When his friends back home laid their eyes on what was, in hindsight, the first run of Team Terrible jackets, that was the smoke. Then when he made a run of 15 jackets specifically for his SF friends and shipped them out, that was the fire. From there it was a wrap. The demand was so high, he decided to print some shirts with that same logo and they sold out online instantly. Jay-Z, Prodigy, Jadakiss, and Fabolous were the next rappers he started listing off.

Eugene’s based back in SF now. Having sold his product on shelves throughout California, Tokyo, and Mexico, he returned to the city after feeling it all out. With a lot more experience and knowledge of his surroundings, he talks about his future plans framed with all that he’s learned and everywhere he’s been. By now his brand pumped out bombers, tees, hoodies, coach jackets, and bucket hats among anything else that didn’t get mentioned. He’s gone off and tried different designs and styles and to this day that tiger logo is his hottest and most consistent item. The city is different now and so is the scene. I asked him if any current trends influence him or any of his upcoming ideas and his answer was an almost definite no. He has a very clear idea of what he likes and what his aesthetic is.

Common, Cam’ron, J.R. Writer, and Buckshot were the next names he listed.

The scene is over-saturated with brands at the moment and more than anything he’s focusing on staying consistent. He describes tigers as strong, respected, fierce, and outside of just simply loving the animal, there’s something about that strength and independence that I think is inherent of the brand’s character. He skates, collects vintage clothing, and turned his love of Starter jackets into a brand and he plans to keep doing him and staying true to himself. This is less about hype and more about genuine love. He struggled to name his tenth top rapper. Because it’s hard when you’re a real fan of it all.

“Snoop,” he threw out, making plans out loud to cop a vintage Snoop tee sometime soon.

What up, Team Terrible!

 

 

My sit-down with Dayvid Michael and Franco Dollas of Danko Mars was free flowing and shapeless. What I mean is we landed on topics such as Kanye, Lil Wayne, and Lil B being the most influential artists on this generation, which was peppered with random unprovoked references to Rick and Morty, all before returning to the subject of the duo’s upcoming album; among a lot of other random tangents. And it’s those tangents, I learned, that are a key part of their creative process.

There’s something going on in the Bay right now. Let’s talk about Oakland. For one reason or another, the creative scene is bubbling out of control and these two are located dead in the center of it all. Part of my mission for this blog is to spotlight Bay Area artists and entrepreneurs. I’m drawn to our locals who have the nerve to build something with their own two hands. That is part of the story of True and a mentality so ingrained in the heart of the Bay and part of what natives fear the Bay is losing. What’s going on in Oakland right now is entirely organic, homegrown, and Danko Mars are one direct reflection of it.

I know Dayvid by way of his music with the trio Down 2 Earth (with Clyde Shankle and True collaborator Azure) as well as his solo work. I asked him and Franco how and why they decided to link up and after a few more similar questions quickly realized what they do isn’t really a matter of deciding. Danko Mars came about simply because they were friends, happened to be making music separately, and one day it just made sense to do something together. “A lot of it is freestyled” Dayvid explained when their album came up. Oakland is popping right now and I asked them if, going into any of the their sessions, they aimed for something different than the competition or if they drew inspiration from the scene. They don’t really think about it. Creatively, their process is free flowing and shapeless. In this DIY era it’s easy for artists to follow what’s trending or to hop on an already existing wave whereas these two retain absolute confidence in themselves and their abilities. They aren’t afraid to bet on themselves. Right down to the name Danko Mars, a combination of their names. They are who they are.

The first song from their album “Horror” is one that showcases their chemistry as a duo. Over Wax Roof’s eerie blob of live instrumentation, Dayvid’s laid back delivery compliments Franco’s heavier, more urgent tone. Their differences come together seamlessly as the two perform with a signature slur over drums sparse enough for them to really swing with it. The track feels like the come up. It feels like triumph. It feels like the waxings of two young kings who know they’re kings, “dripping in gold.” I can’t really tell who their direct influences might be. Maybe it’s just whatever they feel the moment. Maybe it’s just them themselves. “Horror” feels free form and vibey; like two Oakland cats just talking with a limp for three minutes and thirty-nine seconds. Whatever it is they’re cooking and however you would describe it, I’m looking forward to the album and what they have in store.

What up to Danko Mars!

 

 

 

I’m going to talk about this man like a myth because he’s a myth.

I wasn’t around in the 60’s to see a personality like Muhammad Ali in real time. I wasn’t around in the 80’s to see a talent like Michael Jackson hit his stride right there in the moment. I could only tell you secondhand accounts and he-say-she-say about certain larger than life figures and certain larger than life events. When it comes to Kanye West, however, I’ve been along for the ride from the very beginning.  I am part of a generation that grew up along side him and I don’t doubt I’m not the only person to learn about myself through him. ‘Ye’s story feels like a Greek tragedy; or a comedy depending on what we’re talking about. His story differs little from the classic hero’s journey. And to talk about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Kanye West in 2010, one needs to understand what that journey entailed. That album and that moment in time was like the return of a king.

Just 8 years prior our hero’s jaw was shattered in a car crash. At that point the man had plaques on his wall. He made it. He was just one year removed from producing perhaps the most important album of his idol’s career. With the help of ‘Ye among others, they crafted a sound for Jay-Z’s The Blueprint that would go on to become a marker for that time period in Hip Hop. The man was a success in every sense of the word but was simultaneously getting laughed out of the building for his higher aspirations. He was a game-changing producer and had his eyes on becoming a game-changing rapper. In said building he was in the company of the likes of Rocafella and Dipset among others; gangster rappers and ex drug dealers straight out of the projects who rapped about such.  That time period was saturated with throwback jerseys and luxury raps. Hip Hop was in the middle of peak commercialization and was especially adamant on sticking to the script. Then in came this preppy middle-class art student with his pink-ass polo and a fucking backpack.  Nobody took him seriously and they definitely didn’t take his raps seriously. Nobody would sign him nor did they want him to be his own artist; let alone release his own album. In ’02, with his trademark defiant spirit, he was in the midst of taking matters into his own hands by recording his debut album when, driving home from the studio, he fell asleep at the wheel.

Part of the allure of ‘Ye’s story is his perseverance against all odds thrown his way. I was a child when I first heard the man rap through a mouth bound shut by metal wire. Having already been silenced by his peers and the record label suits, here he was silenced in the most literal way by nothing less than divine intervention itself. I say he’s a myth because that was the moment I feel he became less of a man and more of an idea. At his best and at his worst ‘Ye is all of us. He is that adversity every one of us experiences and that triumph not all of us get to revel in. And though he went on to fully recover, he spent the rest of his career with that mentality of rapping through a mouth that all odds had forced shut. Nobody wanted him to release an album but he went on to make it happen regardless. And he did so to widespread critical praise and great commercial success, to which a cultural shift began. Having narrowly escaped death, he gave us all a music career with absolutely no wasted space. Already a genius with the habit of traveling the unbeaten path, our hero now had a battery in his back charged by a higher purpose and spent the rest of his years sporting a nerve unmatched by anyone. What rapper made their lead single about Jesus? What rapper directed their own videos? What rapper shot three different videos for one song? In the era of super-thugs and artists pretending to be harder than they were, who was out here rapping about college, the gripes of having a regular job, and their deepest insecurities? In a climate where Hip Hop developed sub genres with stark divides between their sounds and ideals, who was able to seamlessly navigate between circles of “commercial” rappers like Jay-Z or “conscious” rappers like Mos Def, much less get them on the same track? Who was able to give out hits to newer artists like John Legend or Alicia Keys while reviving the careers of veteran artists such as Common or Twista? Who was able to blur the line between a street art/street fashion oriented genre like Hip Hop and so-called high art/high fashion? The nerve of this man to take his explosive success as a new artist and put it on the line by declaring “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” live on the air. The nerve of this man to take the successful formula of his first album and flip it on its head; co-producing his second album with movie composer Jon Brion.

The nerve of this man to go head to head with the genre’s most feared and unstoppable force.

Hip Hop is full of followers and every era we see an artist whose every move dictates what direction the game goes. By his third album, Kanye once again went way left when he could have remained comfortable. Outside of introducing the genre to Japanese anime-inspired art and brighter, poppier, electronic inspired sounds,  that time period is best marked by his face-off with rap titan 50 Cent. This is a man who came into the game catching bodies. 50 was known for destroying careers, outselling everyone and never hesitating to absolutely humiliate, bully, and crush his opponents. One couldn’t find a better human embodiment of everything gangster rap from that era. He came with the narrative of surviving 9 gunshots, wore bulletproof vests like they were fashion, and topped the charts with stories of crime and violence. Having found a way to montetize rap beef, ‘Ye was his latest opponent as the two scheduled to drop their albums on the same day. This was the day gangster rap as we knew it died. In an unprecedented win, ‘Ye came out victorious and with that victory, the idea of what it means to be a rapper got turned on its head. He was never supposed to be a rapper in the first place and now the game was completely in his hands. He was free to completely mold it in his image. Then he experienced the most prominent tragedy of his career since the car crash.

808’s and Heartbreak was his follow up album. I liken Kanye less to a rapper and more to a painter due to the rules, or lack thereof, that he operates by. At this point his art completely dismantled and went abstract as his life did. This was the point in the hero’s journey called the belly of the whale; referring to a point in a story when the hero is completely lost in darkness, surrounded by nothing familiar with no clear escape or win in sight. In retrospect, his mother’s death and what he created in its aftermath completely changed the trajectory of pop music. Throughout his career up until that point, it was clear she was a prominent part of his life and maybe even served as an anchor to his often pulsating ego. On that album ‘Ye performed through grief not unlike how he performed through that wire. In an odd move that left many scratching their heads in the moment but was perhaps his most influential moment artistically, he released a completely autotuned album that featured him, a rapper, singing. Like how nobody wanted to hear this producer rapping, nobody wanted to hear this rapper singing. But one of my favorite things about the man is that he’s right no matter what and the success of that album is the most tangible source of why the genre sounds like how it does right this moment. Outside of so many other factors, this era is notable for one particular moment. Again, I feel like I’ve been right by Ye’s side from the very beginning. And I remember in the moment seeing footage of him on the MTV red carpet with a bottle of Hennessy in one hand and then newcomer Amber Rose’s ass in the other. As I mentioned, Kanye’s art moves alongside his life and it was clear that, as beautiful as the music was, our hero was going through it. “I’ma let you finish but…” is now a running gag and a phrase that is a part of pop culture but in the moment, strangely enough, out of all obstacles he faced up until that point that was what almost destroyed him. Hopping up on stage and snatching the mic out of a young Taylor Swift’s hands as she won one of her very first awards turned ‘Ye into one of the most hated and criticized figures in the media landscape.

I have a feeling ‘Ye thrives on adversity.

In order to understand the significance of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, one needs to understand all that lead up to it. He went completely silent. Rumors have it our hero retreated to his studio in Hawaii for several months, flying in a who’s-who list of artists with the goal of creating one singular body of work. In and out of the studio were established legends such as the RZA, Q-Tip, No ID, Swizz Beatz, Pete Rock, Pharrell, Pusha T, Raekwon, Charlie Wilson, and Elton John. There were an eclectic array of talents that ranged from The Dream, to Rick Ross, to Ryan Leslie, to Fergie, to Keri Hilson, to Bon Iver, to Musiq Soulchild, to Lupe Fiasco, to Talib Kweli, to CyHi the Prynce, and Lloyd Banks. There was an embrace of the newer, upcoming generation that would come to dominate the decade this album ushered in such as Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kid Cudi, Big Sean, and Nicki Minaj. Clearly our hero was up to something. But what were the odds that it would all come together? I remember the stories and rumors circulating around these sessions. It sounded like some crazy mix of Illmatic and Thriller. But what were the odds that this one man could dodge so much adversity and keep coming out clean? I remember Q-Tip had an interview when this unnamed, mysterious Kanye album came into the conversation. He described it as the culmination of Ye’s entire journey up until that point. As if on every album he found and took something with him; and it was all always leading up to this moment. But what more could this man really do?

I remember waking up to the first GOOD Friday. We’re in a different era of music right now. The rules are completely different and the industry got turned on its head. There was a point in time when the concept free music sent fear and panic through the veins of anyone making money in music. To release original, great, well composed, well thought out music for free was absolutely unheard of. Kanye’s GOOD Friday series wasn’t just a collection of amazing music that he simply gifted to his fans, it was a window into what he was cooking up in real time. Who does that? Who even has the confidence to just throw music out like that? There are new rules today but back then it was hard for an artist to see the value in giving music away. When in actuality, listeners were never simply buying music. They were buying and buying into an idea. He recognized that and though he gave us so much leading up to the album, we still weren’t prepared for what was in store.

I wasn’t around when Michael dropped the video for Thriller on MTV. But I was around when Kanye dropped Runaway. And I, along with the world, shed all skepticism and recognized ‘Ye for the absolute rare and great talent that he is. It changed me a little by the end of it. Never had I witnessed a rapper drop something so ambitious with such disregard for how rap is supposed to be presented. The genre always had noses turned up at it and always had its legitimacy as an art form questioned by the people we’re supposed to recognize as gatekeepers. When I saw Runaway for the first time, it was the first time I viewed the genre as the kind of art that could be shown at the Louvre or the Smithsonian. While the video and the album was surely meant to be one giant fuck you to all of his critics and naysayers, who all in the moment recognized his brilliance for what it was, I also saw it as a fuck you to anyone that downplayed the legitimacy of not only Hip Hop, but Black music as a whole. After all, his defense of Beyonce and all of her phenomenally hard work over Taylor Swift is what fueled him to jump on that stage in the first place and turn himself into a target. And like Q-Tip said, it was as if our hero reached a point in his journey where every tool he acquired along the way came into play. It had the soul and honesty of his first album, the orchestration and grandiosity of his second album, the genre blending of his third album, and the autotune tinged ambition of his fourth album. I’d never seen or heard anything like it.

I will always root for ‘Ye through the good times and the bad times. I first heard him as a child and now I am deep into adulthood. He taught me about life, about perseverance, and that existence is all about growth. There are kids growing up today that weren’t around in 2010 to see that man do what he did in the moment.

But I was. And I’m forever grateful for it.

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy!

 

I’ve honestly never seen anything like this.

I asked Dominic Fontana of Taped Metal Canvas who inspires him and amidst laughter it became apparent it isn’t a matter of “who” but rather “what.” Born and raised in San Francisco, the way he would tell it, his journey growing up in the city culminated itself into the visual art pieces we see today.

 

What I mean is Dom spent his teenage years in the graf scene. Having access to a limited assortment of colors, the era he came up in prepped his eyes to find rarity. He loves finding new colors. He loves finding new materials. At the age of 18 he took up a job working with sheet metal and coming out of the graf scene he already developed an affinity for adhesives. Somewhere in there an idea sparked.

Taped Metal Canvas really just says exactly what it is. Because looking at any given piece, I’m sure that’s the most common question. Looking at the canvas series, the sculptures, or any other form he molds this idea into, it’s tough at first to tell.

There’s a sign he hangs at every show. At times people glance at it and ask why photos aren’t allowed. But the sign is actually an instruction encouraging them. A key factor in these pieces is the flash from a camera. In one state each piece is intricate and vibrant just on its own, but the flash brings it alive.

For this particular exhibit, Dom wanted to challenge himself. He came across a little over a dozen old school wooden TV frames; the kind with the dials, knobs, and rabbit ears at the top. With that in mind he made a decision to abandon color entirely and go strictly black and white. It’s cool when you take note of the fact that screens became a very dominant factor in all of our lives right down to our cell phones. Flash activates these pieces. And it’s kind if cool that those old screens, pretty much where this whole thing started, flash right back at us.

What up, Dom!

@tapedmetalcanvas
www.tapedmetalcanvas.com

 

1998 was something else.

Hip Hop was fresh off of the East Coast vs. West Coast war, which as we know ended with casualties on both sides.  While the genre as a whole suffered, those specific regions just weren’t the same. I’d be willing to bet all the money this contributed to what was to become the longest run of dominance Hip Hop has ever seen. I’m talking about the South. There was a time when, on a mainstream level, Southern Hip Hop wasn’t too distinguishable from the then dominant West Coast sound, for example. Then as Hip Hop got left wide open for anybody to snatch the crown, this region previously bubbling in the background exploded full force into the foreground with a style, a sound, and a language that reverberates all the way to today.

Let’s talk about Juvenile. Let’s talk about Cash Money.

Let’s talk about 1998. I say that year was something else because in a handful of ways it set the stage for what we see today.  Jay-Z officially began his winning streak securing his first bonafide hit Hard Knock Life, which propelled both him and the idea of a rapper owning themselves to the mainstream. Lauryn Hill injected Hip Hop sensibilities into an R&B/Soul album that perhaps helped make the genre more palatable to the Grammy audience. Outkast jumped full force into the idea of genre bending. DMX brought back an element of ruggedness and a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that Hip Hop requires. Mos Def and Talib Kweli helped anchor that with the idea that rappers don’t have to subscribe to the gangster narrative the media was painting; domino effecting us to the current climate where that whole notion got obliterated. Then there was Juvie.

I simply don’t have enough time to give 400 Degreez its just due. First, it’s imperative someone stress the importance and cultural significance of “bling” rap. Hip Hop will always receive flack for any image that doesn’t line up with American respectability politics, even if its coming from a real place. Before value was seen in it and it was commodified, so-called “gangster rap” came from a real place, real environments, and real events. It was an artistic choice to grab America by its collar and force it to pay attention. Just the same, rap having to do with flash and materialism comes from a very real place. New Orleans is likely to come up in conversations having to do with its deep musical history, its language, and eclectic cultural melting pot. Just the same it is likely to come up in conversations having to do murder rates and poverty. The independent label Juvenile served as the first front-running act for, Cash Money, houses artists repping the Magnolia Projects; which was likely to come up in conversations having to do with the latter. And no matter which way you cut it, the Cash Money story is one to do with a huddle of geniuses with a unified plan that was met with immense success. And with that success came celebration.

Juvie would paint a vivid picture about where he was from and the mind state he was once in by saying:

“My nine is gonna die with me
Pick up the supply with me
Be up in the ride with me
Do a homicide with me, who, me”

And coupled with that, he was just as likely to talk about the success story that followed by saying something like:

“It ain’t no secret I’mma stunter, like Evel Knievel
Jumpin out Lex’s and Hummer’s, showin off for my people

That idea shouldn’t be slept on. Hip Hop is often criticized for being too shiny, too object-oriented, and too much about excess and that trend really took off in 1998, becoming as much a fixture in Hip Hop as anything else. And if you’re someone raised in an environment that inspired stories of drug dealing, homicide, and not knowing if you’ll make it to the next day, why wouldn’t you talk about your success? And Cash Money ushered that in with a specific flavor that was so foreign, so new, and so separate from what was, up until then, deemed the hardest of conventions within the genre. The song “Ha” alone is genius in its conversational delivery, its use of dialect directly tied to Louisiana, and last but definitely not least its production drawn from the New Orlean’s Bounce scene; a prime example of that deep musical lineage attached to the city.

Let’s talk about Mannie Fresh. The man carried the whole label on his back, producing whole albums for every one of its acts from Birdman, to B.G., to Turk, and a young, future game-changer, Lil Wayne. Today, each city within the South has its own distinct sound, but New Orleans was one of the first out the gate to establish theirs in the national eye. These days you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Southern act or an artist influenced by the South.

And let’s not forget who helped break that door down.

Happy 19th birthday, 400 Degreez!

 

Those two dope boys in that Cadillac tho.

As they travelled through space and time, boldly going where no man had gone before, we were gifted with the opportunity to ride shotgun. On October 31st 2000 the latest stop was Stankonia. Having followed countless musicians on their artistic journeys, Outkast is one of the few that left me feeling well travelled. The journey being the human experience itself, these two spent their careers bobbing and weaving through it effortlessly.

The nerve of Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and  André “André 3000” Benjamin, I swear. There are events in life that inspired feelings I can literally only imagine because I missed the boat. What did the hush sound like seeing Neil Armstrong take that first step on the moon in real time? The moment the curtains came down, what did it feel like laying eyes on something as monumentally gorgeous as The Sistine Chapel? The instant the world watched something as awe-inspiringly catastrophic as the atom bomb dropping, what kind of sensation washed over us? There are those moments in history that I imagine made one realize, if only for a second, just how small we are and how little we know of this thing we’re all strapped in for. There are those moments that make us question what we’re even looking at.  Every time Outkast drop an album, I’d imagine the feeling is comparable.

Change is a natural part of life. Everything grows. Everything moves. Flowers bloom, planets spin, and people evolve. Who knows why, it just is what it is. And instead of letting growing creative differences curb their journey, Big Boi and Andre had the nerve to flip those differences into their most valuable attribute. These two high school friends came into the game at the tender age of 17 and from then on, through their art, put the ebbs and flows of their individual growths on full display.

They started on Earth. The first album was pimping, Cadillacs and a more traditional down south funk. It was a lot harder to tell the difference between the two friends. They started very much on the same page; as many childhood friendships do. The way Andre describes it, what happened from there was art imitating life. Big Boi knew himself from the get-go. Musically, he was the man with the plan, concocting the overall vision. But outside of that, he graduated high school with honors, got married and had children, and maintained a certain level of confidence in what it is he wanted to be. On the flip side, Andre seemed much less comfortable with who he was and set off to find himself. That dynamic became their story.

Their next couple of albums marked their duality. The second one saw a complete departure from the overtly layered musicality of their first joint and an exploration of a more sparse, spacy sound. Big Boi was more street than ever, telling tales out of hardship, pride, and hustle, with a gold-coated gruffness likely sponsored by Stone Mountain. He kept them grounded. Andre took off talking about more abstract, less tangible ideas like spirituality, religion, love, and meaning. Then on their third round, they left the solar system entirely. Hip Hop started falling back on pre-established conventions, veering in a direction of jigginess, flash, and peak commercialization. Outkast made a conscious decision to obliterate those conventions. That album contained traditional Hip Hop, funk, hard rock, spoken word, singing on part of Andre and the album title alone articulated both their divide and their bond by combining the names Aquarius and Gemini; their differing astrological signs.

Then came Stankonia.

They already destroyed every rule the genre had in place and evidently had no plans of slowing down. I mean, what was Bombs Over Baghdad? What was Ms. Jackson? What was Snappin’ and Trappin’? We Luv Deez Hoez? What genre were they anymore? Who could we compare them to? What were we looking at? At that point, it wasn’t even worth questioning. Outkast was just Outkast. They stayed true (plug) to themselves. At that point they weren’t on Earth with all of these earthly rappers bound by earthly rules. They told us where they were right there in the album title. It’s a strange statement to make, but these days it’s cool to be different. It’s popular to be weird. And Outkast was the act that had the nerve to take it to the level first. Stankonia was a marker in time, a midpoint before they damn near left the genre entirely. It was documentation of how far in the rabbit hole they got; where no one went before.

And just about anywhere these new artists go, they are likely to run into Big Boi and Andre 3000’s tire marks.

Happy 17th birthday, Stankonia!